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When I was about 5 years old I received my first piggy bank. It was in the shape of a globe. My first question was "Where is Britain?". My second question was "Where is Vietnam?" The reason was because I had heard the word again and again and so, therefore, I felt it must be awfully important.

In 1955 Vietnam was divided between Communist North and non-Communist South. In the early 1960s an insurgency began with the aim to force the South to become part of the North. In 1965, the US, under President Johnson put in ground troops. The war became very divisive. By 1973, the US, by now under Nixon had withdrawn all its ground troops having seen some 58,000 of them killed (that's about 30 a day). In 1975 - Nixon having been forced to resign as a consequence of the Watergate scandal - the North invaded and the South fell. Immediately afterwards Cambodia and Laos also fell to Communist forces of one sort or another.

This podcast stems from my watching a documentary on the Vietnam War on PBS. I didn't like it much. And I decided to do some checking to see if there was an alternative point of view. There was.

My essential argument is that just about everything you have heard about Vietnam is wrong and that by 1972 the US had engineered a situation where South Vietnam could be defended at acceptable cost. That "victory" was then squandered by Congress.

Brian was a young adult in the 1960s and given that his generation was all anti-War etc I expected that he would have plenty to say from first-hand experience. I was wrong. But that doesn't stop us.

I begin by outlining how I see the war. We go on to have a discussion about the Johnson administration's approach to the war, the role of the left, the role of the media and the role of what Brian calls "anti-anti-communists", John Paul Vann and the ramifications of the fall of South Vietnam. I outline the argument that the war may not have been a complete waste.

Towards the end I speculate whether our tiring of Iraq has led us to miss something quite important and we discuss nation building.


  1. That stuff about the end of Black Lives Matter? Whoops!

  2. A lot of my information has come from Vietnam Veterans for Truthful History.

  3. The boat people 

  4. Dien Bien Phu 

  5. Case-Church 

  6. Nixon was President from 1969 to 1974. Henry Kissinger was his National Security Adviser.

  7. Watergate 

  8. I mention a South Vietnamese commander who wanted to invade the North - or at least take some of it. Try as I might I can't find a reference.

  9. Doctrine of gradualism 

  10. Richard Pipes The Russian Revolution 
  11. Carthago delenda est 

  12. Why MacArthur was sacked 

  13. Statements from Johnson and Nixon about the purpose of the war. This one from Johnson seems plain enough. This one from Nixon, if anything, seems less resolute

  14. My Lai 

  15. Tet Offensive 

  16. Hue Massacre as an example of VietCong thuggery 

  17. Lee Kwan Yew on the Domino Theory (as reported) 

  18. It would appear that Thailand was never under significant threat despite numerous border clashes with Vietnamese forces

  19. Vietcong a Northern creation  

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